DUBAI 13 June 2022: The world is on the move again after nearly two years of lockdowns and travel restrictions. With many countries opening international borders and easing travel restrictions, many travellers across the globe are planning international trips.
Monaz Billimoria, Deputy Regional Head – UAE & Qatar of VFS Global, one of the world’s largest outsourcing and technology services specialist for governments and diplomatic missions worldwide, answers questions for travellers planning Eid Al Adha and summer holidays.
- How do key visa application trends look like?
With international borders opening up and covid restrictions reducing, we have seen a good demand from travellers. Number of visa applications have risen significantly after Q1 2022 and in Q2 & Q3 we expect around 85% of pre-pandemic counts to return. The demand for our optional Premium service, Visa at your doorstep, have also doubled since pre-pandemic times.
- If I am travelling to the UK with stopover in EU member states, do I need Schengen airport transit visa?
Yes, Schengen airport transit visa is mandatory for travellers with a stopover. This requirement has been in place for many years.
- How early before my travel dates should I apply for my visa?
When planning your travels, you always book flights and hotels in advance. Do the same for visas.
Most countries accept visa applications up to 90 days (3 months) before your date of travel. According to the revised Schengen Visa Code, effective 02 February 2020, you can apply for a Schengen visa up to 6 months before your date of travel. Particularly this year with higher demand and limited appointment slots available, we urge applicants to apply for their visa as early as possible.
- What are the typical turnaround timelines for visas?
Each country has a different timeline for its visa processing, and these timelines are mentioned on VFS Global websites, providing information required to apply for your visa well in advance. Be aware that during peak season visa processing can take longer than anticipated, hence apply early. Each application is unique and thus the processing time may differ for each case.
- What is the appointment allotment process?
Appointment slots are offered online based on volume of demand or forecast, and in conjunction with the embassy’s own internal capacity planning. Once scheduled, we highly recommend being at the centre 15 minutes prior the appointed time to avoid missing your slot. Appointments are free, beware of fraudulent parties selling appointments in exchange of money. We urge applicants not to pay for any appointments being offered.
- I am confused about documentation, which varies depending on who I ask! Which are the correct documents to submit?
A checklist of the documentation required for visa applications for each country served by VFS Global is available on our website. Be sure to carry all the requisite documentation, including a printout of the checklist, to submit along with the duly filled application form. Check your passports and Emirates IDs validity. Many countries require a valid passport six months beyond your return date.
- How do I track the status of my application?
Once your application is submitted, you can track the progress of your application online through VFS Global website. Additionally, you can opt for the SMS service, and receive timely updates on your mobile phone.
The status will be updated as and when your passport is ready for collection/delivery. Be aware that VFS Global cannot track your application during the assessment process within an embassy or consulate.
- Can VFS Global offer advice and guidance on visa categories and vaccination?
VFS Global is strictly not authorised to provide advice or guidance on visa category or any other visa requirement that the customer may need. VFS Global manages the administrative and non-judgmental aspects of the visa process only, such as visa application submission and biometric enrolment. VFS Global does not comment on vaccine requirements. All travellers are requested to check the destination / transit country guidelines for the same.
- Can I expedite the process? Does availing any of the value-added services guarantee a faster visa outcome?
The time taken for visa processing differs with each mission. Please check the turnaround timelines before applying
Opting for any optional, value-added services (such as Prime Time Services or Form-filling, or any other service) does not guarantee a quicker or more positive decision by the concerned embassy/consulate. Optional and value-added services are available for select client governments only, as per agreed service level agreements with those governments.